Justin Adian, Richard Artschwager, Tauba Auerbach, Martin Barré, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Batchelor, Dike Blair, John Chamberlain, Dan Christensen, Dan Colen, Ida Ekblad, Jeff Elrod, Urs Fischer, Jack Goldstein, Piero Golia, Kim Gordon, Katharina Grosse, Wade Guyton, Richard Hamilton, Keith Haring, Hans Hartung, Alex Israel, Anish Kapoor, Paul Klee, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, John Latham, Joseph Logan, Nate Lowman, Olivier Mosset, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Jules Olitski, David Ostrowski, Steven Parrino, Sigmar Polke, Stephen Prina, Ugo Rondinone, Pamela Rosenkranz, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Mira Schendel, Julian Schnabel, David Smith, Rudolf Stingel, Blair Thurman, Charline von Heyl, Andy Warhol, Lawrence Weiner, Franz West, Michael Williams, Christopher Wool, Richard Wright
Gagosian is pleased to present Sprayed, organized by Jona Lueddeckens and Greg Bergner.
This extensive exhibition spanning four generations explores the myriad ways in which artists have employed the impulsive yet depersonalized and non-gestural forces of spray. It begins with Paul Klee’s work on paper Seltsames Theater (1929), where he improvised with a blowpipe to achieve hazy background effects in a circus scene. This tentative experiment presaged the bold and diverse artistic license that would come with the postwar advent of aerosol paint as a consumer product and the use of the industrial paint compressor.
From the mid-1950s, sculptor David Smith sprayed enamels over various studio objects and offcuts laid on canvas and paper as stencils; the resulting images recalled Paleolithic cave paintings made by blowing pigment over hands pressed flat. John Chamberlain blurred the lines between painting and sculpture by torquing scrap automobile parts into painterly abstractions, then enhancing the original paint surface with fresh sprays of colored lacquer. Lawrence Weiner’s interaction with the medium resulted in a simple, dispassionate instruction: TWO MINUTES OF SPRAY PAINT DIRECTLY UPON THE FLOOR FROM A STANDARD AEROSOL SPRAY CAN (1968), while Martin Barré tested it at different distances and pressures in a series of rapid strikes producing sequences of stripes and cryptic punctuations on paper.
From the late ’60s, spray assumed a new scale and level of exposure, from Dan Christensen’s vast “post-painterly” abstractions—in which he used a spray gun to create intersecting colored loops of paint alive with cool-tempered energies—and Jules Olitski’s ethereal gradations of tone, texture, and depth to Richard Artschwager’s furtive urban Blps, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s existential aphorisms tagged on New York City walls, and Keith Haring’s exuberant political pictography that covered bodies, canvases, and subways. In the ultimate debunking of Ab Ex posturing, Andy Warhol produced a series of alchemical Oxidation Paintings by urinating on canvases primed with metallic paint.
Artists who came to prominence in the 1990s, such as Albert Oehlen, Christopher Wool, and Rudolf Stingel, continue to both employ and emulate spray in sophisticated painterly compositions that uphold a formal tension between direct and indirect mark-making, free form and control. In recent years, further exploration of this zone between deliberation and contingency has resulted in Tauba Auerbach’s subtle creased canvases, Sterling Ruby’s huge landscapes in which undelineated forms merge with atmospheric neon layers, and Kim Gordon’s Wreath Paintings, which use readymade decorative wreaths as stencils for vertiginous abstractions. Katharina Grosse—a standout in the current Venice Biennale with her entropic environment enlivened with “radioactive” color—underscores the urgent temporality of the medium in intricately layered canvases where the action of painting overlaps and intersects at different frequencies.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by John Corbett and Nicholas de Monchaux.
Sprayed: An Interview with Peter Stevens
Harnessing the gestural, unpredictable, projectile qualities of spray paint, artists have repurposed it as an alternative to the brush, to create hazy textures, drips, puddles, and graffiti-like text. Peter Stevens discusses this history of spray paint as an artistic medium with Alison McDonald.
“Things Fall Apart”: Ed Ruscha’s Swiped Words
Lisa Turvey examines the range of effects conveyed by the blurred phrases in recent drawings by the artist, detailing the ways these words in motion evoke the experience of the current moment.
Private Pages Made Public
Megan N. Liberty explores artists’ engagement with notebooks and diaries, thinking through the various meanings that arise when these private ledgers become public.
On Collecting with Norman Diekman
Rare-book expert Douglas Flamm speaks with designer Norman Diekman about his unique collection of books on art and architecture. Diekman describes his first plunge into book collecting, the history behind it, and the way his passion for collecting grew.
Gwen Allen recounts her discovery of cutting-edge artists’ magazines from the 1960s and 1970s and explores the roots and implications of these singular publications.
Uncanny Delights: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray
Catalyzed by the exhibition Crushed, Cast, Constructed: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray, Alice Godwin examines the legacy and development of a Surrealist ethos in selected works from three contemporary sculptors.
September 29–December 12, 2020
Britannia Street, London